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Energy Use on Farms and Ranches

Energy is one of the more expensive components of raising crops and livestock. In fact, United States Department of Agriculture economists noted that because of rising energy costs, nearly half the cost of production was being spent for energy.

field tractorWays to save fuel in field operations, motor efficiency or utilize renewable energy are featured in this issue. With the recent growth in wineries in the state, some may be interested in a new software tool to maximize energy and water in those types of operations.

Fuel Efficiency in the Field
Choosing the Right Tillage System for Row Crop Production” by Charles Wortman and Paul Jasa of University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources suggest considering 19 criteria, in addition to cost conversion, in choosing a tillage system for farming operations. Selecting the right tillage system may contribute to profit, crop yields soil improvement and protection of water resources. The authors recommend using a decision guide when considering the criteria.

Saving Fuel in Field Operations,” by Mark Hanna and Mahdi Al-Kaisi of Iowa State University. According to the authors, energy savings can be significant when the best conservation practices are used in tillage, planting, harvesting, residue management and distribution, nitrogen application and proper operation and maintenance of farm equipment. Key questions to answer: Is this field operation necessary? Do benefits exceed losses?

Ways to Use Green Power on the Farm
Farming communities may be better able to harvest renewable energy resources located within their regions. The National Food and Energy Council has created a web page on green power opportunities such as methane recovery, solar, wind power and biomass. Two specific projects in Minnesota — wind power and alfalfa power — and a methane project in Oregon are highlighted.

Finding Efficiencies in Motors
The National Food and Energy Council offers efficiency and maintenance tips for motors used in agricultural applications including poultry, swine, cattle feeding, dairy or crops. For example, simple maintenance and proper selection of equipment can yield substantial savings. An electric motors packet which includes a video tape and a binder of materials is available by loan from the Council.

Reducing Water and Energy in Winery OperationsNebraska Winery
BEST Winery’ Tool Helps Reduce Energy and Water Costs,” by Allen Chen, Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Berkeley National Laboratory. BEST — Benchmarking and Energy and Water Savings Tool — Winery is a software tool with an accompanying handbook that enables users to compare their own wineries to one that is the most energy efficient possible. The software tool is specifically designed for small and medium sized wineries. The article includes the contact information of persons who can provide further information to potential users.

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